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West Bengal: State govt decides to halt plans to increase the number of beds because ‘migrants recovering faster’ without needing hospitalisation

State health officials have stated that since most of the migrants have recovered fast without needing hospitalisation, the occupancy level in hospitals is not very high.

Amidst the rising cases of Wuhan coronavirus in the state of West Bengal, the Mamata Banerjee-led-Government has reportedly decided not to expand its health infrastructure or procure hospital beds right away. In contrast to the directives by the centre, the decision was made by the state government after infected migrant workers reportedly began recovering within a week and that too without hospitalisation.

Reportedly, the state of West Bengal has 8,785 beds, out of which 25% are occupied. As per a senior official was quoted by The Telegraph, more than 3000 cases in the state, out of 5500+ cases, are that of migrant workers. The official further said that only 1% of migrants develop severe symptoms that may need life support. Another official said, “We are focusing on managing the positive cases (Coronavirus) efficiently so that the infection does not spread from migrant workers to others in their families or locality.”

Nevertheless, the West Bengal Government has decided to build 200 safe houses to isolate infected migrant workers, monitor their health, and contain the spread of infection to their families. Citing the example of Howrah and Kolkata where 300 beds out of 750 and 900 beds out of 1500 are occupied respectively, the source informed that the other districts in the state, where migrant workers are currently more in number, have seen a lower occupancy of hospital beds.

Infected migrant workers ‘recover’ fast

An official from the Health Department quoted by the New Indian Express said that the condition in West Bengal is better than the national average where 2.55% of patients were in ICUs, 1.96% on oxygen support, and around 0.48% on ventilators. Reportedly, most of the infected migrant workers aged between 20-55 years had no comorbidities such as diabetes and hypertension. As such, they recovered from the deadly disease within 7-8 days and required little medical care.

Several health officials, however, questioned the decision of the Mamata Banerjee-led-government. One such official said that the State should be prepared for the worst. He warned, “We don’t know how many Covid-19 positive but asymptomatic returnees have been allowed home quarantine. The situation could change within a week or two.”

Coronavirus in West Bengal

As of June 15, West Bengal has reported a total of 5,552 active cases with 389 added to the list in the past 24 hours. The total infection tally in the state stands at 11,087. Kolkata has witnessed 158 new cases, followed by 70 and 40 cases in North 24 Parganas and Howrah respectively. Jalpaiguri in North Bengal topped the list with 24 cases in North Bengal.

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